Off flavours

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The lunch man

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Hey all,

Bit of an awkward post for me here as I have been brewing for years now, but every beer I've made tastes pretty bad. I've done a fair bit of research over the years thinking I would get to the cause of my terrible beer but feel like I'm out of idea's now.

The flavours typically have a strong over ripe fruit flavour, usually a bit tart too, but it varies a bit from batch to batch. From what I've read I reckon acetaldehyde sounds pretty close to some of what I'm picking up in a lot of brews.

I started out extract brewing and moved to biab, then cooler mashtun with keggle, and now currently doing double batches on the 70l guten electric system. I ferment in a 60l plastic carboy in temp controlled fridge, typically 2 or 3 weeks then bottle. No kegs. Clean with pbw and sanitise with stellersan

I use brewers friend for all my recipe building and calcs, pitch rate around 30 to 45 g dry yeast for 45l in fermenter. Typically doing very basic pale ale or English bitters using us05 or notty most of the time as I hear these are pretty consistent,

I have changed out my gear multiple times with fear of infection and am pretty thorough cleaning taking apart taps etc. Am I missing something here or is brewing a nice beer a lot harder than most people make it out to be 🤷
 

professional_drunk

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It's not hard as long as you take care in the cleaning. Even sometimes when you don't you could get away with it. I once stuck an unsanitized hose in wort and nothing came of it.

Some questions to ask yourself
  • what equipment that the chilled wort touches have you replaced to isolate the source.
  • Review these off-flavours to see which closely match it
  • At what stage of production do you notice the off-flavour.
  • Correct dosage and contact time of sanitizer used.
  • Yeast lag time is under 12 hours?
 

The lunch man

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Now that you mention it, lag time is almost always longer than 12 hours. Usually closer to 24 and sometimes more than that.
Another thing I find quite strange is the colour is often dark and muddy looking. This doesn't always happen but it often will, even in a smash using only pale base malt and us05 yeast. Turned out looking like EBC range in the 20s. This happens quite a lot 🤔.
The other points you've listed I have tried to pay close attention to. I usually notice the off flavours from the FG sample before bottling, but it usually gets stronger in the first few weeks after bottling. Sometimes it will fade slightly over the coming months, other times not.
 

professional_drunk

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At least you can narrow the problem down to pre-bottling. Review your yeast handling, maybe you need to pitch more or healthier yeast. Haven't used US05 in many years, but I remember getting up to 8 hours lag time. Nottingham comes in an 11g packet, so 2 packets should be enough for your batch. You say you're using 30-45g which is probably more than you need. With that lag time and a lot of dry yeast, there's something not making sense. Is the yeast stored in a fridge and within use by date? What temp are you pitching into?
 

Naboo

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You could maybe try and run a simple kit brew with no extra additions and see if you get the same off flavours. It might help you narrow it down.
 

The lunch man

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Yeah I usually try to overpitch if anything because you hear of so many off flavours caused by under pitching and want to rule that out if possible. The yeast is always in date and I store in fridge until the day of use. I have tried both rehydrating and pitching direct to wort. Temp usually set to 18 degrees with temp probe taped to fermenter behind an insulated old cooler skin. I experimented with liquid yeast a few years back making starters with stirplate but results were very similar in outcome of finished beer.
 

The lunch man

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You could maybe try and run a simple kit brew with no extra additions and see if you get the same off flavours. It might help you narrow it down.
This could be worth a shot too. Any kit recommendations that are known to be pretty consistent in quality?
 

professional_drunk

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Does your LHBS store the yeast cold? I find it hard to believe that Nottingham would lag that long. The yeast is a phenomenal performer.
 

The lunch man

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Does your LHBS store the yeast cold? I find it hard to believe that Nottingham would lag that long. The yeast is a phenomenal performer.
Yeah they store it in a fridge. Tbh the fermenter I've been using the last 12months or so doesn't seal perfectly so can't use airlock activity as indicator, but equipment in the past would often show no activity in the first 24hours.
 

Naboo

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This could be worth a shot too. Any kit recommendations that are known to be pretty consistent in quality?
I always found the Coopers stuff pretty consistent. The Pale or English Bitter are both good and similar to what you've been making.
 

The lunch man

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Problem might be your water?
Possibly. I have a .5 micron carbon filter I run my water through but have never experimented with water treatment. I'm in Townsville and the LHBS have the same filter set up for customers to come and fill containers to take home. I'm guessing the quality is ok if that's the case.
 
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A possible cause is wild yeasts. A year-round warm climate and the presence of rotting fruit in the neighbourhood would favor high airborne concentrations. Stellarsan and Starsan are not effective against them. Try iodophor or peracetic acid.

But I'm not sure what would produce the muddy appearance.
 

Feldon

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Maybe go to a supermarket and pick up some clean spa/mineral water (Aldi have it cheap) and use that for a brew. Pick a recipe that has in the past clearly demonstrated your taste/colour problems. See if different water makes a difference.

If your local LBHS is providing filtered water for his customers the local water must have known problems for brewers. The reticulation pipes in your street/house are different to his (maybe older) and that combined with poor quality supply might be an issue. Good luck in finding a fix.
 

The lunch man

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A possible cause is wild yeasts. A year-round warm climate and the presence of rotting fruit in the neighbourhood would favor high airborne concentrations. Stellarsan and Starsan are not effective against them. Try iodophor or peracetic acid.

But I'm not sure what would produce the muddy appearance.
Interesting, I haven't used iodophor or peracetic acid before but I know they sell iodophor here so will try it for the next brew. Cheers
 

The lunch man

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Maybe go to a supermarket and pick up some clean spa/mineral water (Aldi have it cheap) and use that for a brew. Pick a recipe that has in the past clearly demonstrated your taste/colour problems. See if different water makes a difference.

If your local LBHS is providing filtered water for his customers the local water must have known problems for brewers. The reticulation pipes in your street/house are different to his (maybe older) and that combined with poor quality supply might be an issue. Good luck in finding a fix.
Yeah I actually tried this a while back. I've lived in two different locations up north with different water sources too and haven't noticed any changes in brewing results between them.
 

fifis101

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I put my off flavours down to storage temperatures. If I stored my bottles or kegs in the fridge I didn't get off flavours but if I just stored them in the garage where the temperature fluctuates then the off flavours start to show up.
 

fifis101

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Yep so did I but then I found that the temperature had to remain stable the whole time during storage. Now I just keg & put them straight in my kegerator.
 

The lunch man

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Yep so did I but then I found that the temperature had to remain stable the whole time during storage. Now I just keg & put them straight in my kegerator.
Yeah righto, I'll keep that in mind. I usually find the flavour pretty flawed from the early stages of bottle conditioning so there could be something else going on there too. I find after about 4 weeks in the bottles very little change in flavour occurs after that.
 

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